Firstly I would like to apologise for my memory. Getting things in chronological order has never been my strong point. The years might be out but trust me this is all true. (Well as true as the alcohol I consumed allowed me to remember it as the truth)
My first encounter with The Alarm was late 1984 early 1985 Declaration tour. Guys I went to school with twisted my arm “oh come on Paul you’ll love it” My response was “are you kidding me they’re spiky haired Welsh dudes who sing about hiding from sixty odd guns”. But I gave in and what I experienced that night was Wow on top of Wow. Those of you who know the Barra’s in Glasgow will know of the crescent which happens half way between the stage and the back. Where those who prefer to stand and just watch gigs, instead of participating stand. Well I couldn’t find the crescent that night it was one giant mosh pit. These 4 weird looking characters where having the time of their life’s and the more the crowd got into it the harder they went. I never knew any of the words but I left the Barra’s that night with a real course throat I was singing my own words I just wanted to be part of it. (I must have looked like a right prat) But I never really got it (I’ll explain that later)
The following day I bought Declaration and by the next week I knew all the words. Oh and so did my mum she heard it that often.
Next up was the Strength tour back at the Barra’s. As you all know excellent album BUT live.This time round it made the Declaration tour look like a warm up act. The song with everything was introduced to us and man did we feel like “one of the lucky few”. This was also the night that everyone in the Barra’s knew the words to “one step closer to home” well except Sharpie. Never has the line “surely you can help me out” been more appropriate. Again course throat and soaked to the skin. But I still never got it.
Eye of the hurricane tour how ironic they played the tin shed the SECC we were blown away. It was renowned for crap sound (never noticed it that night). Mikey decides it’s time for a bit of stage diving and joins the crowd during Rescue Me. You seen it on the faces of the first timers “is he mad doesn’t he know its Glasgow he’s in?” He knew exactly where he was and finally I got it The Alarm didn’t play for audiences they played for their mates.
Been dreading telling you lot about the Electric Folklore tour I have no memory of the gig other than it was in Edinburgh. Where the Alarm good that night I suspect so but all of that was over shadowed by my lifetime most embarrassing moment. (I can’t believe I’m sharing this) I was with my girlfriend, I was about 20 feet from the stage and noticed guys in front of me had girls on their shoulders so I turn to my girlfriend and ask her if she would like to go on mine. She replies yes (but she never really heard what I said) so down I go into the darkness and proceed to try and put my head as you do between her legs to lift her up. She was resisting. I then started being thumped but still I was stubborn thinking she was just having second thoughts. I got thumped some more. I then gave up and came up from the darkness to see my girlfriend standing to the side pissing herself laughing and another girl fuming at me and her 6’4 boyfriend not to happy either. I went bright red, offered my apologies and said I’ll be at the bar. If you were that girl, apologies again.
Change album down to Manchester for the launch gig. Not my favourite album but the gig was still up to the guy’s incredible standard.
Then comes Raw back to the Barra’s. If I knew that would be the last time I would see the original line-up I would have savoured every minute. Bang, bang, bang, bang they played songs as if they were bullets from an automatic rifle. Moments in time WAS my favourite track from the album but man did I hate it for a long, long time after.
The new chapter.
Mikey was back playing at King Tuts WahWah Hut. Perfect venue, fans crammed in and Mikey loved it he could see the whites of everyone’s eyes. He delivered a show up to his usual standards with the help of The Poets of Justice. Or as my best friend called them The Dead Poets Society to wind me up. He done this as he thought Mike had similar facial features to Robin Williams. Every time he done this I had this mental image of Mrs Doubtfire singing 68 guns. The new tracks fitted perfectly. Mike was back but this time he wanted everyone to feel as tho we could be up there with him, he achieved it we all loved it.
This is when my memory becomes jumbled.
I remember a gig in Dundee not the busiest gig but Mike used it to play songs he didn’t normally play. Between songs I decided to annoy Mike a bit. So I shouted Mikey (no reaction) so again I shouted Mikey (he heard me but continued to tune up) again Mikey (it was getting to him but still no response) Mikey (he had the look of “for f@#k sake” on his face) so he snapped “what is it”. I replied “what’s the answer?” Mike realised I had got him and burst out laughing.
Another gig Larg’s. Think the tickets where about 5 quid Mike played 90mins to 2 hrs then during encore says “guys don’t run off at end we’ve put on a feed for you”. We walk out there’s a buffet and Mike and the band join us. Signing whatever we liked and just acting as I said earlier as if they’re with their mates. All for a fiver.
People started joining Mike on stage. And to me it was as if he’d raided my record collection. Billy Duffy whom I’d listened too from his days in the Southern Death Cult. Craig Adam’s all I’ll say is SISTERSSSSSSSSSSSSSS. One night in Tuts I handed Craig my camera between songs and he happily took pics of the audience. James Stevenson from his time with Billy Idol but mainly Gene loves Jezebel. Kirk Brandon the list goes on.
About 13-14yrs ago I ventured down to The Gathering, thinking I’d seen the best of Mike and the guy’s. Man was I wrong. We drove down on the Friday and checked into the hotel. All around Alarm T-shirts. Llandudno was buzzing.
Friday was acoustic night and Mike runs to the stage smack bang in the middle of the venue. He produces 2+hrs of magic his mates where mesmerized. We sang every word in unison. Back to the hotel everyone still on an amazing high, walking along the promenade still croaking our fave songs.
Saturday walking round the town every shop you enter playing something to do with Mike. We wandered in and out of the venue, watching a video of the guy’s year. Then it was gig time.
I still reckon the Barra’s creates a better atmosphere (but I’m bias). All the favourites and I mean All. The band provided the music; Mike was the conductor and his choir where in great voice. Start to finish highlight followed highlight. Another amazing night but it was over. Not quite. Mike had organised an after gig party fortunately in the hotel I was staying. Mike and the guy’s came along. Smiles everywhere with a young band providing the entertainment, the perfect end to a brilliant day.
Sunday 5 a side tourney I went but my hangover decided I was in a watching mood. Met the guy’s and got my cd’s signed.
Jule’s asked me to share My Alarm story after she saw my tattoo. Which could be viewed as a tribute to Mike and The Alarm but it is way more than that.
Ten years ago I decided to visit Australia for a 3 months holiday which I extended to 6 months. This decision was made because I wanted to spend more time with Rosa whom I met and almost immediately fell in love with. Due to visa conditions I had to return to Scotland which was a heart breaking decision. Soon as I did I contacted an immigration expert to find out how I could legally return to be with Rosa and her 3 kids Alana, Dion and Travis.
Two weeks after I left for Scotland it was Rosa’s birthday and although I knew I’d be in her thoughts I made sure I was. I had organised for flowers to be sent to her. Not one bunch tho, she received 7 or 8 deliveries that day everywhere she went. Her work, her mother’s house everywhere. All anonymous except the last which said on the card “I hear you’ve been seeing a delivery guy”.
Whilst in Scotland Rosa and I continued our love having contact either by telephone or internet our love grew. I sent Rosa music which included The Alarm most notably “walk forever by my side” which she loved.
I got my visa I returned to Australia in November of 2004. I felt complete my dreams where coming true. We began to plan our life together including building our own home. We quickly found the land and designed our dream home. Little did we know our dream was about to receive a major setback.
In March/April of 2005 Rosa began to feel something just wasn’t right inside so we went to the doctors. Initially the tests didn’t reveal anything unusual. Then she had to have a colonoscopy. During this procedure they discovered something and broke the news to us. Rosa had a carcinoid tumour a very rare form of cancer untreatable but very slow growing. She was operated on in the next few days where they removed as much as they dared as it was very close to her main artery.
After Rosa was discharged from the hospital she begged me to return to Scotland and forget about her as she didn’t want me to go through what was ahead. My reply was we have a home to build. Rosa returned to work within 6 weeks of her op. In September of 2005 we moved into our new home. We had had a setback but nothing was going to stop our dream we were going to fight it as a family.
We had our arguments like every other couple but the strength that built within us grew at a steady rate. In 2007 Rosa found it hard to keep food down so back to the doctors we went scan revealed she had a blockage in her bowel. Another op where they redirected her digestive system. Another quick recovery and back to work she went there was no stopping her.
Things went along at a steady pace Rosa’s oncologist surprised how well she was doing at every visit. About 2 years ago Rosa found it hard to keep anything down every meal ended with the same result about an hour later she would have to run to be sick. Scan’s revealed no blockage. They say a carcinoid tumour won’t kill you but the symptoms it creates will eventually catch up on you. Rosa’s scans revealed it had spat cancer cells throughout her body. Lymph nodes, lungs and kidney it was everywhere but still she fought it.
Rosa had always wanted to go to Phuket in Thailand. She was a shopaholic. In March of this year we shared our dream holiday. We left with 1 case came back with 4 she really went to town. Amazingly in the 10 days we were there she ate like a pig but only on a couple of occasions she was sick.
Rosa suffered from severe bloating and the doctor had placed her on fluid tablet’s. And it was stated if she took 1 she had to take the other. Rosa had asked if I’m not bloated can I take a break the doctor replied yes. A misunderstanding had occurred Rosa was referring to both tablet’s the doctor 1. The tablet she was to continually take was to replace the potassium in her system. She was low in potassium due to the fluid tablet but also her throwing up. Her potassium level had reached rock bottom and she was admitted to hospital where they intravenously returned her levels to a acceptable level. We took it as just a setback lesson learnt, our hope remained intact.
Two weeks later she felt really run down so back to the hospital we went. She was extremely malnourished. A feeding tube specialist was introduced to us and he suggested inserting a tube to feed her beyond her stomach with partially digested food to give her stomach a break. He then dropped the bombshell. He said to us you do realise you are approaching the end of the road. We looked at him in disbelief. Then at each other. Our hearts sank. For the first time I couldn’t find the right thing to say. He suggested Rosa took a few days at home and return when she was committed to having the tube in for 10 days. I approached the oncologist and asked him did he share the same opinion as the specialist he nodded. I said why didn’t you tell us he replied Rosa never asked. He then went on to say Paul if Rosa had asked the same question 3 yrs ago I would have answered the same way. That is one hell of a fighter in there.
Rosa had said on the Tuesday I’ll go back in on Monday. Thursday night Rosa was so weak I pleaded with her to go in earlier because I feared she wouldn’t be strong enough to go through the procedure. She reluctantly agreed and on Friday morning I took her back to the hospital. I told her I would stay with her every night and not leave her side. Friday afternoon they inserted the tube a 30 min procedure 90mins later she still wasn’t out of recovery. I later found out she nearly didn’t wake up.
They started feeding her through the tube on Friday night all was going well nothing coming back up our hope was returning. Then Saturday night our worst fear her body rejected the feed. The doctor suggested maybe he was over eager and was feeding her at too high a rate so he would give her a few hours break and start again. Before they did they attached a syringe to the end of the tube and emptied her stomach. With most cases they will take out about 40ml with Rosa it was 490ml.
They started the feed again mid Sunday afternoon last try it failed Tuesday morning. Again they syringed the tube this time over half a litre the feed wasn’t getting through there was a blockage. I told them to remove the tube. I had called the family in against Rosa’s wishes. She said don’t it’ll worry the kids. Typical Rosa, worrying about everyone but herself.
Mid-afternoon Tuesday, 3rd of July Rosa was extremely agitated reaching out asking to get out the bed even tho she had no energy. She wasn’t ready to give up. I asked Rosa’s nephew if he could get YouTube on his phone and I played The Ramones Baby I love you instantly she settled her head on the pillow I held the phone to her ear. I then played what we considered our song Dan Reed Stronger than Steel. I was racking my brain trying to think of another one of our songs when her friend said play that again. As I went to click play I looked at Rosa and said to her sister in law get the kid’sshe’s about to go. Connie said no the nurse just checked her she’s still strong. I barked get the kids. The kids and all the family and friends came in and before the song was over the strongest person, my partner the love of my life passed away.
Numbness came over the full family but somehow we all got strength from each other. The kids where amazing I believe their strength helped me through. They had just lost their mother yet they made sure I was all right. I love them as if they are my own but doubt I’ll ever be able to show how much.
As I said Jule’s asked me to write this and I thank her and I owe her a huge hug for doing so as although this was extremely hard to do I believe through time it’ll be a great comfort.
My tattoo represents so much more than The Alarm the poppy was originally put there as remembrance of my dad who passed away in 2010 but he now shares it with Rosa. The Love, Hope, Strength part of it is self-explanatory when Rosa was with me. But now it’s still a part of me, the love I’ll always have for her and her kids, the hope that one day I’ll hold her again in my arms and the strength I’ll need to be there for our kids whenever they need me.
To my Alarm family always be there for your family and friends. And keep on Rockin